Understanding Kennel Cough: Is It Contagious to Other Dogs?

Understanding Kennel Cough: Is It Contagious to Other Dogs?

Ever wondered if your furry friend’s cough could be a sign of something more serious? If you’ve heard the term ‘kennel cough’ and wondered just how contagious it might be to other dogs, you’re in the right place. This article will delve into the facts and dispel any myths surrounding this common canine ailment.

Kennel cough, technically known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a term that pet owners often fear. But what does it really mean, and how worried should you be? Let’s take a closer look at this health concern, its contagious nature, and how it can impact your beloved pet.

Key Takeaways

  • Kennel cough, or infectious tracheobronitis, is a common, highly contagious respiratory disorder in dogs characterized by a persistent honking cough.
  • The primary pathogens contributing to this ailment are Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine adenovirus and Parainfluenza virus; these can thrive in densely populated environments and spread through both direct and indirect contact.
  • Symptoms usually appear within 3-10 days of exposure and include a dry hacking cough, nasal discharge, lack of energy and decreased appetite. In severe cases, it can also cause fever and lead to complications like pneumonia.
  • Bordetella vaccines, regular cleaning and good hygiene practices, and avoiding crowded dog environments, can aid in preventing the spread of this disease.
  • Treatment options for kennel cough include care and supportive actions at home, vet-prescribed antibiotics and suppressants, and natural remedies like honey and coconut oil. Severe cases should always be evaluated by a veterinarian.
  • Kennel cough impacts a dog’s health beyond physical symptoms – it can also affect their emotional well-being. Regular veterinary check-ups are advised, especially post-recovery.
  • Misconceptions around kennel cough include underestimating its severity, believing only kennel dogs can contract it, or assuming vaccinated dogs are completely immune. These misconceptions need to be debunked to ensure appropriate care and treatment of affected pets.

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs, and understanding it is key to preventing its spread. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides comprehensive information on how kennel cough spreads and the steps to take to prevent your pets from catching it. VCA Hospitals explain the symptoms of kennel cough and recommend immediate veterinary care to manage the condition effectively.

Understanding Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, officially recognized as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a widespread health issue among canine populations. This respiratory disorder primarily affects dogs’ windpipe and voice box, causing persistent coughing that sounds like a honking goose. Much like human colds, numerous strains of viruses and bacteria can contribute to the occurrence of this condition.

Prevalent among dogs, kennel cough involves highly contagious pathogens. Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine adenovirus, and Parainfluenza virus are the most common culprits. They thrive in densely populated environments, such as kennels, animal shelters, dog parks, and pet shows, boosting the transmission rate among dogs.

Symptoms manifest within 3-10 days from exposure to the pathogen. The most noticeable is a dry hacking cough, often followed by a gagging sound. Other signs include nasal discharge, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and in severe cases, fever. Although alarming, kennel cough typically resolves itself within one to two weeks. However, susceptible pups – puppies, seniors, or dogs with suppressed immune systems – might develop severe complications such as pneumonia.

Prevention becomes crucial due to the highly infectious nature of kennel cough. A Bordetella vaccine, commonly known as the kennel cough vaccine, is available. Although not 100% effective, it significantly reduces the severity and duration of symptoms. Good hygiene practices, like regularly cleaning kennels and keeping your pet away from crowded dog environments, aid in minimizing the risk.

While kennel cough indeed poses an uncomfortable few weeks for your pet, remember that it’s usually not life-threatening. Prompt attention to symptoms, preventive measures, and routine check-ups enhance the chances of keeping your furry friends resilient against this common canine ailment.

Is Kennel Cough Contagious to Other Dogs

Is Kennel Cough Contagious to Other Dogs

When looking into the spread of kennel cough, you find that it is indeed contagious to other dogs. Contact-based transmission happens primarily when infected dogs cough or sneeze, as the pathogens get dispersed in the droplets. Generally, dogs catch this respiratory disease in environments where they interact closely with other canines, places like kennels, dog parks, and grooming salons serve as ideal grounds for transmission.

In addition to direct contact, indirect transmission also poses a risk. Contaminated objects like toys, water bowls, and even human hands can carry the bacteria or virus from an infected dog to a healthy one. Resistance to kennel cough varies among dogs, those with a strong immune system often repel infection while younger, older, or immunocompromised dogs are more susceptible.

Vaccination plays a pivotal role in managing the contagious nature of this disease. Bordetella bronchiseptica and Canine adenovirus, being major pathogens responsible for kennel cough, feature in most vaccinations designed to prevent the ailment. Dogs that are frequently in communal environments benefit greatly from vaccinations. Vaccinated dogs provide less opportunity for the disease to spread, decreasing overall risk levels faced by the canine community.

Undeniably, mitigating the disease’s spread goes beyond just vaccinating dogs. Maintaining good hygiene practices lessens the chance of indirect transmission. Regular cleaning and sanitization of shared items and spaces, coupled with preventative measures like not allowing your dog to share water or food bowls with other dogs, help keep this disease at bay.

In essence, kennel cough poses a significant contagion risk to other dogs. Nonetheless, with good preventive practices and responsible pet ownership, you can efficiently manage this risk, keeping the canine community healthier and happier.

Prevention and Management of Kennel Cough

Prevention and Management of Kennel Cough

Preventing kennel cough focuses on vaccination and environmental control measures like maintaining cleanliness and limiting close contact among dogs. As a dog owner, a key measure you can take is regular vaccination, a vital part of your pet’s healthcare routine. Vaccines against primary culprits like Bordetella bronchiseptica, Canine adenovirus, and Parainfluenza virus exist, offering immunity against these diseases. However, remember that vaccinations don’t guarantee complete protection, depending on factors like your dog’s health status, age and exposure risk.

Managing the environment also plays a critical role in preventing the transmission of kennel cough. Avoid places with high dog concentration, especially if they’re unvaccinated or sick. Sanitizing shared items, such as water bowls, toys, and bedding, also curtails the risk. When in doubt, consult a veterinary professional to choose the best preventative approach for your pet.

In case your dog contracts kennel cough, proper management of the condition is key to ensuring a smooth recovery. While mild cases often resolve within a week or two, severe cases may require medical intervention. In such instances, antibiotics aid in combatting Bordetella bronchiseptica, and cough suppressants can ease your pet’s discomfort. It’s vital to isolate contagious dogs to prevent further spread during this time.

Regular monitoring of your pet’s health condition, especially after visiting highly populated dog areas, is an effective way to early diagnose and manage kennel cough. If you notice persistent coughing or other signs of the disease in your pet, a timely visit to a veterinary clinic results in a quicker diagnosis and treatment.

By following these preventative measures and proper management techniques, the risk and impact of kennel cough on dogs can be significantly reduced, ensuring a thriving and healthy canine community. Remember, responsible pet practices are not just beneficial for your pet but also for the broader canine community. So, shield your pet against kennel cough, keep other dogs safe, and contribute to a healthier environment for all dogs.

Treatment Options for Kennel Cough

Treatment Options for Kennel Cough

Dealing with kennel cough isn’t as daunting as it may initially seem. A myriad of treatment options exist. It’s crucial to understand the options, the processes, and the relevant benefits attached to them. The three broad categories include at-home treatments, prescriptions, and natural remedies.

At-home treatments mostly involve care and supportive actions. Providing your furry friend with a warm, comfortable environment helps elevate its comfort level. Regular hydration proves vital in reducing symptoms of a cough. A humidifier in the room serves to moisten the dog’s respiratory tract, thus easing coughing episodes. Some pet owners find successful results in limiting exposure to irritants, such as dust and smoke, that worsen coughing.

Prescriptions typically include antibiotics and cough suppressants. Antibiotics, such as Doxycycline and Azithromycin, fall under the common treatment category. Nonetheless, use antibiotics cautiously as improper dosage may lead to antibiotic resistance or disrupt the natural flora of the dog’s gut. Your vet can also administer a cough suppressant in the form of an oral medication or a syrup. However, avoid administering over-the-counter medication intended for human consumption unless your vet gives an express recommendation.

Natural remedies extend to include honey and coconut oil. Honey for dogs proves helpful in soothing throat irritation and reducing coughing. One or two teaspoons in a day should suffice; however, be careful if your dog suffers from diabetes. Adding coconut oil to your dog’s meals serves as a fantastic immune booster, contributing to a quicker recovery process.

Remember, do not attempt to substitute veterinary care with at-home treatments and natural remedies. Consequently, for a dog with severe symptoms, such as fever, loss of appetite, or lethargy, please seek immediate veterinary help.

Following the aforesaid treatment options often results in improvement within three to six weeks. Throughout the treatment process, isolate the affected dog from others, as kennel cough remains highly contagious during this period. Subsequent to their recovery, dogs return robustly back to their playful and energetic selves, a reassuring sight for every pet owner.

Impact of Kennel Cough on Dogs’ Health

After understanding its contagious nature, prevention and treatment options, it’s important to dig into how kennel cough directly impacts a dog’s health.

Firstly, frequent bouts of intense coughing take a toll. Just like in humans, dogs experience fatigue, lethargy, and discomfort during the disease’s peak. Temporary loss of appetite often accompanies this fatigue, leading to a slower recovery process. However, consistent care and light activities may encourage your furry friend’s appetite and rebuild strength.

Secondly, the risk of secondary infections increases. Kennel cough makes your dog’s respiratory system more susceptible to infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. Swift action in response to persistent symptoms remains crucial.

Importantly, weakened immune response sets in. Though kennel cough itself isn’t a gravely serious disease, repeated incidents can leave dogs more vulnerable to other illnesses. For older dogs or ones with pre-existing medical conditions, this impact doubles. Regular veterinary check-ups are advised, especially post-recovery.

Finally, the psychological aspect can’t be underestimated. Kennel cough may cause anxiety or stress in your pet, especially when isolated from their human family or other pets. They may show signs of depression or nervousness in addition to physical symptoms. Keep reassuring your pet and provide as much comfort as possible.

Throughout this ordeal, remember that the impact of kennel cough on a dog’s health extends beyond the physical symptoms. From maintaining their emotional well-being to protecting them from secondary infections, it’s about comprehensive care and constant vigilance. Each dog responds differently to kennel cough. You can navigate this temporary setback with a well-rounded understanding of its physical and mental implications on your pet’s health.

Kennel Cough: Common Misconceptions

Misconceptions surrounding kennel cough might cloud your judgment, impacting your ability to provide the best care to your affected furry friend. Grasping these common misunderstandings enriches your knowledge about this disease, enabling you to debunk misinformation.

  1. Only kennel dogs get kennel cough. Despite its name, kennel cough isn’t exclusive to dogs in kennels. Any dog, regardless of its environment, can contract the illness if exposed to the Bordetella bacterium or the canine parainfluenza virus.
  2. Kennel cough isn’t severe. Though often mild, kennel cough can lead to life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, particularly in puppies, older dogs, or dogs with compromised immune systems.
  3. Vaccinated dogs can’t get kennel cough. Vaccines reduce the chance of your dog contracting kennel cough, but they don’t offer total immunity. In fact, some vaccinated dogs can still contract the disease, though usually in a milder form.
  4. The disease can cure itself without treatment. While some mild cases do resolve on their own, every kennel cough case requires monitoring. Without appropriate care and treatment, if needed, the condition could escalate, leading to complications like pneumonia.
  5. Humans can’t get kennel cough. Rarely, the Bordetella bacterium can infect humans, particularly those with compromised immune systems.

You have a crucial role to play in dispelling these myths about kennel cough. Correct information is your ally in maintaining the health and happiness of your precious pet.


You’ve learned that kennel cough is indeed contagious to other dogs and how to prevent its spread through vaccination and good hygiene. You’ve discovered that treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, with options ranging from at-home care to antibiotics and natural remedies. You’ve busted some common myths, realizing that all dogs can get it, vaccinated dogs aren’t completely safe, and it’s not a disease to be taken lightly. You’ve also understood that humans can, although rarely, contract it. With this knowledge, you’re better equipped to manage kennel cough if your dog ever contracts it. Remember, providing comprehensive care, monitoring for secondary infections, and offering emotional support are key to your dog’s recovery. Armed with this information, you can ensure your furry friend stays healthy and happy.

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by several viruses and bacteria. It is characterized by a strong cough, and in more severe cases, it may lead to pneumonia.

Can kennel cough be prevented?

Yes, through regular vaccination and maintaining good hygiene practices, the risk of your dog contracting kennel cough can be greatly reduced.

How can kennel cough be treated?

Kennel cough can be treated through at-home care, antibiotics, and natural remedies such as honey and coconut oil. But always consult a vet before starting any treatment.

Is it true that only kennel dogs get kennel cough?

No, it is a misconception. Any dog, regardless of its lifestyle, can get kennel cough if exposed to the viruses or bacteria causing it.

Can vaccinated dogs get kennel cough?

Yes, vaccinated dogs can still contract kennel cough, as no vaccine provides 100% protection. However, vaccinated dogs usually experience less severe symptoms.

Can kennel cough cure itself without treatment?

While mild cases may resolve themselves, more severe cases require treatment. Untreated severe cases can develop into life-threatening pneumonia.

Can humans contract kennel cough from their dogs?

Although it’s rare, humans with compromised immune systems can potentially contract the kennel cough bacteria from their dogs.

What should I do if my dog contracts kennel cough?

Besides treating the illness, monitor for secondary infections, provide comprehensive care and emotional support to your dog. It aids in their recovery.